China’s capital Beijing can be a hectic and tiring experience for the children, so I add a little luxury here and there and take plenty of breaks with a cafe visits, ice creams and souvenirs to keep them going all day. Beijing is a must see destinations for alle the guests who comes to visit us during our stay here, so we dont want the kids to get to unhappy with our frequent tours to the Capital.
Here are some of my experiences with children in Beijing. The list will be updated regularly.
Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square
The whole family only went together to the Forbidden City once. After that day the kids refused to ever come back, and they are in general not happy when I mention other temples we could go visit. 720,000 square meters of temple area with 800 buildings and 9,999 rooms is a mouthful. The place is always crowded and listening to stories about emperors, Qing, Ming and Tang Dynasty plus concubines in broken English on a hot day is just not their idea of fun.
If I ever get the chance to go with the kids again, I will prepare in advance;
1.Firstly I will find a fun and entertaining guide who can pass on Chinese history in a (for westerners) entertaining way . After I wrote this post, I actually found the perfect guide. A Dane called Lars who is crazy about Beijing history and runs Beijing Postcard. He is a brillant guide. Check him out if you are going.
2. If possible go there on a weekday in between two Chinese national holidays to avoid the worst crowds.
3.Show them film about Puyi – The last emperor and read some more about the history of Beijing in their Lonely Planet Guide: Not for Parents – China.
Beijing’s original residential areas – great places to explore with children. There are lots of exciting shops selling local handicrafts, fun / and sometimes a bit weird) souvenirs, cafes, street vendors. I simply love the mix of new and trendy and old and totally dilapidated, which makes such a trip is never boring. In the hutong area by Schichahai Lake you can go sailing on the lakes or hire a rickshaw that can take the whole family on a guided tour. You can also try to eat at a local Chinese family in their hutong. We tried it once and even though it is of course laid out for tourists it was a very nice experience.
Lama Temple Yonghegong
A beautiful, uncluttered and cozy Tibetan temple inhabited by monks. A lot smaller and a lot more laid back than Forbidden City. Here the Chinese burn insane amounts of incense every day. I love the scents and magic atmosphere here and the kids have been here a couple of times too. They like trying to take photos of the giant Buddha that is cut out of one piece of sandal wood and is so special that it made it to Guiness World Of Records. Opposite the temple there is a beautiful hutong area with cafes, small hotels and edgy art shops that the whole family like to explore.
After a day in Beijing you really need to be able to retreat from the crowds, noise and traffic life. Therefore we usually spend a bit more money on hotels here than we would do elsewhere.
In springtime the super cozy Red Wall Garden Hotel with patio, flowering cherry trees and friendly staff who arranged tea-tastings for the kids while the adults ate dinner when we were there is a nice bet.
In the fall we have stayed at Shangrila China World Summit with infinity pool on the 78th storey and the craziest view from our hotel room on the 64th floor. The kids loved to lie on the bed by the window and look down on high-rises, traffic and lights.
In summertime The Emperor Beijing is a very place to stay with kids since it has an outdoor (A rare thing in Beijing) rooftop pool with nice views of Beijing citycenter, a huge terrace and is build in the middle of a renovated ( read – fake but nice and convenient) Hutong area with lots of local snack vendors, A Starbucks and other western brands ( No my kid are not into eating to much Chinese food everyday). The hotel is 10 minutes walk from Tiananmen Square.
The bullet train
China have very nice express trains. The 130 km trip from Tianjin to Beijing is only 25 minutes and the kids love it. Although a lot of extra time is added to go to and from the two train stations the 2,5 hour trip is still only around 25 minutes in the minds of the kids. Children and express trains in China is a great combination.